Andrei Svechnikov pulled off one of the greatest goals in NHL history and an obvious goal-of-the-year candidate in a win over the Calgary Flames on October 29. The goal, dubbed either a “lacrosse” or a “Michigan” goal depending on who you ask, was the first of its kind ever scored in the NHL.
"“I went behind the net and feel like ‘I got room, I should try it.”"
Svechnikov claims to practice that move almost daily and had even worked on it the morning before the game in practice.
Wait, does that seem familiar?
You may have seen the exact same type of goal scored earlier in the day if you keep up with hockey Twitter or social media.
Vancouver Canucks prospect, Nils Hoglander, scored the same “Michigan” goal merely hours before Svechnikov’s for Rogle BK in the Swedish Elite League.
Explaining the lacrosse-style goal
Lacrosse is a popular North American sport that involves a stick with a small net on the end that is used to carry, pass, catch and shoot a ball. It is positionally similar to soccer. Players play on a large field and similarly to hockey, the net is not on the edge of the field, but instead there is space to move around every side of it.
The goal is sometimes dubbed a “lacrosse” goal because in lacrosse, players can run with the ball on their stick, and can also go behind the net. Sometimes lacrosse players will simply shoot the puck from behind the net in the same way Svechnikov scored his goal.
When prompted whether or not he had any experience playing lacrosse, Svechnikov replied that he had, “never played.” When asked if he had ever considered playing, Svechnikov responded with a very candid “uhh, no.”
Well OK, that makes sense, but why Michigan?
The shot was first popularized by Mike Legg in 1996. Legg was a right wing for the University of Michigan and in a NCAA tournament game against Minnesota, he pulled off the move. On a power play, Legg’s teammate was taken down behind the net, but the puck managed to spurt out. Legg picked it up, looked around, saw the goalie down low and decided to go for the move.
According to an ESPN story on the goal, Legg had practiced that move hundreds of time in practice and upon asking different referees if it was legal, his coach eventually gave him the green light to try it in a game. Legg had also said that he learned that move from another player from his hometown, Bill Armstrong.
Armstrong said he had just learned the move practicing his stickhandling. He got good at picking up the puck on his blade and it just kind of evolved from there. Armstrong claims to have scored the goal several times while playing for the Albany River Rats, so the move is more than likely first his, however, Legg popularized it on a bigger stage.
Well, did Svechnikov see it from Legg?
"“I actually saw Granlund score against Russia, so like I saw that move,” Svechnikov said."
The moment Svechnikov mentioned was from Mikael Granlund in the IIHF tournament. Playing for Finland, Granlund pulled off the move against Svechnikov’s Russian home team in 2011. Granlund stole the puck along the wall, deked around a defender behind the net and finally stuffed it in, all in transition, which honestly makes for a more impressive goal. You can watch Granlund’s goal here.
When asked how he actually learned the move, Svechnikov credits his brother, Evgeny, who is currently in the Detroit Red Wings system.
Svechnikov actually has tried it before
Before scoring the famous goal, Svechnikov actually had attempted the move last season in his rookie year with the Hurricanes. Against the Islanders, Svechnikov found himself in a similar position, but the puck went off his blade and straight across the front of the net .
He also claimed to have attempted the move while he was playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Barrie Colts, but it hit the crossbar.
Svechnikov is on fire for the Hurricanes, having scored six goals and 14 points in the first 13 games of his second NHL season. It’s also worth mentioning that he’s just 19. Seeing as though Svechnikov is the first player to score a goal of this type in the NHL, why not rename it the “Svech?” I think it’s only fitting.